SRI LANKA: Govt. to grow 10,000 ha rubber in north-east

Speaking at the 95th Annual General Meeting of Colombo Rubber Traders Association at JAIC Hilton, he said that plans were mooted to complete 1,000 hectares by the end of 2013.

The Minister said that Sri Lanka producers only 2 % of the World Rubber Market and the increase of production was a prerequisite to increase that percentage. "This is the reason we decided to increase production and looked at the North East to grow rubber."

He said that they are also hoping to open more rubber nurseries which would be managed by the Rubber Development Department. He said that they were also working closely with the Divi Neguma movement to increase production and their focus was more on ‘small holders.' He also requested the private sector to set up more factories.

Samarasinghe said they were also looking at ways and means of reducing the cost of production.

"The Government should venture into developing new areas in the Eastern and Northern provinces where trials have been conducted and have been found to be suitable for plantation in the future, bearing in mind and considering the enormous financial expenditure outlaid by the Government on infrastructure development in those regions for the benefit of its people.

"Priority must be given to enhance growth in existing plantations with the ultimate aim to increase rubber production,” said M S Rahim, Chairman, Colombo Rubber Traders Association.

He said that rubber production has dropped from 158,00 tons in 2011 to 152,000 tons in 2012 and declined further in 2013 to 130,80 tons, which is a loss of about 28,000 tons in just 3 years. "The price of rubber too has declined, he added.” A census of rubber lands was done after a period of 26 years in 2010. The last census was carried out in 1984. The sector includes 127,092 small holdings units and 570 estate divisions of over 15 rubber growing districts.

"This strengthening of the Rupee against the US dollar made it very difficult for exporters to compete with other producing countries. However our exporters have performed very well by marketing our rubber to traditional markets at enhanced prices, obtaining support from regular buyers owing to reliable performance,” he said.

Source: "Daily News", Colombo; 16 June 2014
(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)